Philippine Prelate Puts a Priority on Peace

Archbishop Capalla Is New Head of Episcopal Conference

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DAVAO, Philippines, JULY 11, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The new president of the Philippine bishops’ conference knows that peace has to be a priority, including on his own island.

“My program is dialogue. I have always worked for peace and reconciliation in Mindanao, and I will continue to do so,” said Archbishop Fernando Capalla of Davao, referring to the guerrilla war waged by separatists on the island.

Archbishop Capalla was elected as president of the conference during the July 5-7 assembly of the country’s bishops, held in Tagatay City, near Manila.

He told the missionary agency Fides that “mediation and reconciliation in Mindanao is important not only for the Church and people locally, it is important all over the Philippines, because we need to build national unity, confidence and stability.”

“For some years, we have tried to find peaceful ways of solving the conflict in Mindanao,” he said. “Recently, the rebels seem more willing to negotiate. There is new hope, an opportunity which the government in Manila must not waste, seeing also the pressure it receives from abroad.”

The Davao archbishop described the path to peace proposed by the Church: “to work constantly to promote interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, founded on reciprocal forgiveness in the spirit of the Bible and the Koran.”

The 68-year-old archbishop was head of the bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue for several years. He succeeds Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, as president of the bishops’ conference.

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